E-scooter owners warned ‘it is against the law’ to ride them

E-scooters: Anne McIntosh calls for clarity on rules

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E-scooters have seen a rise in popularity since many councils began running schemes in which the vehicles could be rented and used as an easy and cheap mode of transportation.  There are currently 31 local authority trials taking place in the UK, including London, Birmingham and Nottingham. 

Due to them being seen as a greener vehicle in comparison to cars, many people have begun using them as a more sustainable and fun method of commuting.

In July 2020, the Department for Transport made regulations allowing trials of rental e-scooters to be fast-tracked and expanded.

The original deadline for the end of the trials was November 30, 2021, but trials were extended until March 31, 2022, to take into account the slower start to trials as a result of the pandemic.

All trial vehicles must adhere to certain requirements set out by the Government to ensure that they are used properly and safely.

This includes a maximum speed of 15.5mph, a maximum mass of 55kg and is designed to carry no more than one person.

Although it is legal to use a rented e-scooter on public roads and cycle lanes, the same cannot be said for the privately owned ones that many may be receiving this Christmas.

Lucy Coulson, from No5 Barristers’ Chambers, commented on the expected popularity of e-scooters this year, highlighting the relevant laws which owners may not be familiar with.

She said: “As they are classed as a motor vehicle, to hire an e-scooter you are required to hold either a provisional or full driver’s licence and most hire schemes require you to be 18 or over.

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“The law requires that users have insurance to cover any damage, but this is typically provided by the rental operators.

“Unlike privately owned e-scooters, the schemes allow users to operate the vehicles on public roads and cycle lanes, making them a common sight in many major areas across the UK.

“If you choose to purchase an e-scooter as a gift this Christmas, you must ensure that it is only used on private land with the explicit permission from the owner.

“It is against the law to use it on public roads or paths, no matter if it’s a residential area or a major city. If you are caught using an e-scooter illegally, the police may seize the vehicle and you will not be compensated.”

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It was believed that the Government would be introducing legislation to fully legalise the use of e-scooters in the UK.

It was hinted at as part of the Transport Bill which was referenced in the Queen’s Speech in May earlier this year.

The new driving laws are set to create a new vehicle category for powered light transport vehicles – which could include e-scooters.

Lucy Coulson added: “Private vehicles do not come with insurance and it will be your responsibility as the owner to purchase this.

“Having cover will ensure that if any damage is caused to or by the e-scooter will be covered instead of having to pay out of pocket. This can be a hefty additional cost on top of the expense of the vehicle.

“Many parents may see splashing out on an e-scooter as the ideal gift option this Christmas but may not realise that it is illegal for them to be used on public roads.

“Illegal use of vehicles may mean users commit a range of offences including driving without a licence or insurance, with may result in a fine and penalty points.

“If you are planning on purchasing an e-scooter as a gift this Christmas, make sure that you and the intended recipients are aware of the restrictions on use, have the private space available to make the most of it and have in place appropriate insurance.”

It is likely that any private e-scooter legislation will be similar to those applied to rental machines including speed limiters.

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